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Lee Selby has good reason to avoid the gym

Wales fighter puts the health of his partner and young daughter first.

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Lee Selby is a former IBF featherweight champion (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Lee Selby is a former IBF featherweight champion (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Lee Selby is a former IBF featherweight champion (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Lee Selby explained that underlying health issues with his partner and young daughter means he will be reluctant to return to boxing gyms until he is certain it is safe to do so.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to an indefinite suspension of all boxing in this country, with Selby’s final eliminator for the IBF lightweight title against George Kambosos Jr among a significant number of bouts postponed.

Promoter Eddie Hearn conducted an ePress conference with both fighters as Matchroom launched a series on its YouTube page, using the platform to reveal his hopes of boxing commencing again in late June or early July.

While Selby believes his conditioning means he could fight straight away, he insists he would have to consider the ramifications of returning to open gyms for sparring.

“I’m what people call a gym rat, I’m always in the gym, I’m always working,” he said. “If I was to box a 12-round fight or spar 12 rounds tomorrow I could do that no problem.

“But the sparring for a big fight like this, you’d need to be properly prepared so I’d need the sparring, maybe six weeks’ worth of quality sparring. But it’s having the confidence to go back into the gyms.

“In my household I have two people at risk: my partner has congenital heart disease, she was born with two holes in her heart, but she’s been fine ever since the operations as a baby. But there is still a risk there.

“And my daughter has asthma so to get the confidence to go to the gyms and know that I’m not going to bring anything back to the house, that’s the only problem with me.”

We're planning to get boxing back up and running at the end of June, certainly July we will be in full flow behind closed doors, for sureEddie Hearn

Selby is aiming to become Wales’ first two-weight world champion and would have moved a step closer to fighting for a 135lb title with victory over Kambosos Jr, scheduled for May 9 at Cardiff.

While the date was initially moved to July 11, that is no longer official although Hearn is optimistic he will once again be able to start staging shows in empty arenas – even though the British Boxing Board of Control said last week the suspension would continue after the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted because of the pressure the sport puts on the NHS.

Hearn said: “We’re planning to get boxing back up and running at the end of June, certainly July we will be in full flow behind closed doors, for sure.”

Kambosos Jnr, a Greek-Australian who has amassed a perfect professional record of 18-0, believes he is catching Selby (28-2) at the right time.

Kambosos Jnr, who at 26 is seven years younger than Selby, said: “I’m the young bull coming through, you’re the old bull heading out. You’ve been there, done it and won your world title. I haven’t done that yet.

“I’m not being disrespectful but the man has had his time and you just can’t stop a young bull right now.”

The pair sparred each other for four rounds at the fabled Wild Card gym in Los Angeles a few years ago, and Kambosos Jnr boasted: “Every time I touched him he was shaking in his boots.

“I had the boy running, he ran all over Wild Card. Running and trying to use his jab. It was a long time ago but I know I got the upper hand.”

PA